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Truckers Embrace Hydrogen

With California’s mandate of zero emissions for commercial trucks set to begin on Jan. 1, truckers are looking at their options, and hydrogen fuel is gaining fans, reports The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
Hydrogen’s advantage: While many truckers are considering battery-cell rigs, hydrogen may be a better bet for many uses.

  • “Hydrogen offers longer trips and faster refueling than battery-cell technology, supporters say, while allowing trucks to haul heavier loads because they aren’t carrying industrial-scale batteries.”

By the numbers: A battery-electric big rig can only go about 300 miles between charges and requires several hours or more to recharge. By contrast, a hydrogen truck can manage 500 miles and refuel in about a half an hour.

  • In addition, hydrogen trucks are substantially lighter than battery-electric vehicles—by several thousand pounds—which makes a big difference for freight-hauling.

​​​​​​​However, “the development of hydrogen vehicle technology and fueling infrastructure remain years behind battery-electric trucks, and regulatory demands are bearing down on the carriers.”

  • While more than a dozen California companies are using battery-electric rigs already, hydrogen power rigs have only recently begun traveling the state’s roadways. Also a factor—there are currently far fewer refueling stations than recharging ones.

Who’s making them: Several manufacturers are seeing promise in this market. “[T]raditional manufacturers including Kenworth, Hyundai Motor and Volvo Trucks are also developing hydrogen fuel-cell big rigs.”

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